What is Acupuncture?
Acupuncture is a system of healing that has been practiced in China and other Eastern countries for thousands of years. Although often described as a means of pain relief, it is in fact used to treat a wide range of illnesses. Its focus is on treating the overall well-being of the patient, rather than isolated treatments of specific symptoms. According to Traditional Chinese Medicine, good health depends on the body’s vital energy (known as chi or qi) moving in a smooth and balanced way through channels beneath the skin (called meridians).
CHANNELS OR MERIDIANS IN ACUPUNCTURE
THE INVISIBLE PATHWAYS OF QI
Chinese use the term “jing luo” which means, channels, conduit, meridian etc. According to acupuncture, these are the invisible channels through which qi circulates throughout the body. The acupuncture points (or holes as the Chinese term xue is more aptly translated means) are the locations where the qi of the channels rises close to the surface of the body. There are 12 main meridians, six of which are yin and six are yang and numerous minor ones, which form a network of energy channels throughout the body.
In acupuncture, each meridian is related to, and named after, an organ or function, the main ones are: the lung, kidney, gallbladder, stomach, spleen, heart, small intestine, large intestine, gall bladder, urinary bladder, san jiao (three heater or triple burner) and pericardium (heart protector/ or circulation sex meridian).
There are also 8 extraordinary channels in acupuncture that are considered to be reservoirs supplying qi and blood to the twelve regular channels. These are believed to have a strong connection to the kidney. The meridians are shown in the figure to the right.
When Chi flows freely through the meridians, the body is balanced and healthy, but if the energy becomes blocked, stagnated or weakened, it can result in physical, mental or emotional ill health. An imbalance in a person’s body can result from inappropriate emotional responses such as: excess anger, over-excitement, self-pity, deep grief and fear. Environmental factors such as cold, damp/humidity, wind, dryness, and heat can also cause imbalance so as factors such as wrong diet, too much sex, overwork and too much exercise.
To restore the balance, the acupuncturist stimulates the acupuncture points that will counteract that imbalance. So, if you have stagnant QI, she/he will choose specific points to stimulate it. If the QI is too cold, he will choose points to warm it. If it is too weak, he will strengthen it. If it is blocked, she will unblock it, and so on. In this way, acupuncture can effectively rebalance the energy system and restore health or prevent the development of disease. The points that the practitioner chooses to stimulate may not necessarily be at the site of the symptoms.